Homer’s poem “Odyssey” can be acclaimed as one of the most popular epic stories ever created by humanity. Among the most important reasons for the popularity of this literary work is the character of Odysseus. Odysseus is shown in his glory, strength, power, courage and wisdom with the balanced features of personality end the spirit of a man-conqueror which makes him remarkable for the audience. This man appears to be sort of perfection, and the embodiment of all the incredible qualities that humanity has ever praised. The idea of Odysseus’ image is often seen in the works by modern masters of art. It is easy to notice many parallels between the image of an idealized hero in Hollywood movies, and the image depicted by ingenious Homer in his timeless poem “Odyssey”; significant similarity between the two popular images is also seen in the ethics behind the actions of these heroes including the ideas of justice, equality, and liberation.
The concept of Odysseus’ image was in a certain measure risky for Homer as he became the first literature master who decided to combine traditional features of mightiness and power along with the innovative features of intelligence and wisdom in this character. The Greek culture was known for its passion for power, strength, mightiness, beautiful athletic body and outstanding face features. However, Homer managed to create such a successful balance of physical characteristics and personal qualities and virtues that it became an etalon of success for a hero. Nowadays, this concept is still successfully implemented by the creators of Hollywood movies when they want to depict a perfect hero. The parallel between the character of Odysseus and modern heroes is more than obvious, and is especially seen in the balance between outstanding physical characteristics and phenomenal intellectual abilities. Below, these parallels between the concept of Odysseus’ character by Homer, and the image of a modern hero from Hollywood movies will be addressed.
Odysseus who is called a “man of exploits” by Homer, possesses a row of the most important qualities which makes it possible for him to be a great example of an idealized hero able to be an etalon for the masters of art for centuries including our modern-day Hollywood directors and script writers (Damrosch, Apr-Alliston, Brown, duBois and Hafez 260). He is depicted as a good-looking, strong man with an athletic body. “A faultless body and a blameless mind”, said Homer about his hero in Book 3 (Damrosch et al. 279). Odysseus is a man of exceptional power having not many competitors able to be well-deserved corrivals for him. “What he greatly thought, he nobly dared” (Damrosch et al. 272). He is a real hero brave and courageous enough to do his best for the well-being of his people. Odysseus is full of practical wisdom and knows when to act, and how particularly to do this in order to attain his goals in the best way possible; he is not only wise and intelligent, he is also cunning as he knows well how to organize the things around him in a way that helps solving urgent problems in the best way.
Analyzing a number of modern-day movies aimed to describe a perfect male protagonist for the society including children who need an example to imitate, a conclusion can be made that the image of a perfect hero did not change too much during the thousands of years to pass; maybe the hero has more knowledge on science which was not developed during Homer’s day, and this is the only significant difference which can be noticed. The audience usually sees such heroes as handsome men full of energy, vigor, power and strength which they incessantly use until they solve the problems their people face. These men are intelligent and wise enough to develop the most complicated strategies and make the most important decisions as urgent as it is important for any particular situation. The heroes are shown as people of excellent inner qualities, full of kindness, compassion and mercy. They are also passionate lovers surrounding their ladies with an abundance of attention and tender care. This description of perfect heroes is also Odysseus’ character sketch; thus, it is evident that the successful concept of a perfect hero created by Homer did not change after many years. This concept was only improved in a certain way. For example, modern heroes acquired profound knowledge on modern techniques and scientific findings which help them in fulfilling their mission.
Similar conclusions concerning the similarity in ethics shown by Homer and by the modern-day creators can be made. Both Odysseus and the modern-day heroes are inspired by the ideas of justice, equality and liberation. Odysseus is ready to do his best to provide the people of his land with freedoms and rights making their life rewarding and meaningful. He never forgets about the afflicted people; whenever he hears about someone’s grief he is ready to give a helping hand. In modern-day culture, popular ethics for a hero also relies on similar principles of justice and liberation. In so many movies, we see how heroes protect afflicted people from cruel evildoers, and assist the triumph of justice in this way; we learn how heroes set people free from the oppression of corrupted men of wealth; we are able to observe the way heroes liberate people from unjust actions of men of authority who appear to be criminals at the end of the day; and this list can be continued for long. Therefore, the similarity in Odysseus’s ethics and the ethics of modern heroes is indisputable.
As a final point, in his timeless epic poem “Odyssey”, Homer managed to create an image of an eternal hero which can be well noticed in the patterns of modern-day culture. Homer’s concept of Odysseus’s image appeared to be risky for his times as he endowed Odysseus not only with power, strength, courage and the beauty of athletic body which were at the peak of the their popularity in the culture of those days, but also with intelligence, wisdom, and moral virtues. Such risk appeared to be very successful as “Odyssey” became one of the most popular pieces of literature in the whole course of the history of humanity due to the image of Odysseus. Nowadays, the audience may notice numerous parallels between the image of a popular hero shown in Hollywood movies, and the image of Odysseus. Not only the features of character and appearance demonstrate significant measure of equality between Odysseus and modern heroes, but also the ethics standing behind their actions is also very similar with its ideas of the triumph of justice, equality and liberation.
Damrosch, David, Alliston, Marshall Brown, Page duBois, and Sabry Hafez.
Longman Anthology of World Literature Vol 1. The United Kingdom: Longman, 2004. Print.